When Did the First Black Baby Doll Come Out?
Today, almost every product in the market tries to be inclusive. Therefore, baby black dolls have become somewhat of a more common thing than they were 50 years ago. On top of influencing kids’ development like any other doll, these dolls instill racial awareness in children. You can always add one to your little one’s collection by ordering it from Baba Me.
These dolls have a long history. Keep in mind that way before the manufacturing of dolls started in the 19th century, most households made dolls for their children by hand. Therefore, tracing the first black baby doll is quite impossible. Nonetheless, there are a few pioneer black dolls that helped shape the history of black baby dolls.
1. The First Manufactured Black Dolls
These were manufactured in Europe in the mid and late 19th century. The dolls were made in Germany and France from porcelain and bisque. Despite some of them having odd features, the dolls were quite expensive, and most black communities could not afford them.
2. The First Handmade Ethnically Correct Black Dolls
In the late 1800s to early 1900s, most black dolls were either too expensive, promoted negative stereotypes on black people, or were white dolls painted black. But there was a black doll maker who started with painting white dolls black but later on decided to make dolls with realistically black features.
Leo Moss was his name, and he used tools and scrap materials to make his dolls. His dolls had expressive faces, and it is said that friends and family were his inspiration. He produced his dolls by request, and his wife Lee Ann, a popular dressmaker, made clothes for the dolls and sometimes the bodies out of cloth.
3. The First Black Barbie Dolls
By 1960, Barbie was the most famous vinyl doll. The company behind Barbie, Mattel, introduced the first black Barbie doll as a colored version of Francie, Barbie's cousin. This Francie was not well received, and so, the company introduced another black doll- Christie in 1968. Christie did better, and in the following year, Mattel released Julia, inspired by a TV show going by the same name. Ten years later, in 1979, the company released the official version of Barbie with black skin.
4. The First Consistently Mass-Produced Black Dolls
In 1968, Mattel funded a venture by a local black community in Los Angeles to build black dolls that are an accurate representation of black people. The venture led to the birth of Shindana Toys (Shindana is Swahili for compete). The company focused on making ethnically correct black toys, complete with shorter, nippier hairs or afros and broader noses. The dolls also had Swahili names like Malaika (Angel), Tamu (Sweet), and Baby Zuri (Good Baby).
Shindana also made action figures of black celebrities like Redd Foxx and Michael Jackson. By the time the company went out of business in the ’80s, it had influenced a few more companies to enter the business of making black dolls.
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